Guapinol water defender Jeremías Martinez acquitted of charges of usurpation and damages, but remains in prison
On March 17, Libertad para los defensores de Guapinol tweeted that Jeremías Martinez had been absolved of the crimes of usurpation and damages.
Following this, lawyer Edy Tabora tweeted: “Today we obtained an important achievement, an acquittal. 27 months later the judiciary agrees with us. Thanks to colleagues, nationals and foreigners who have invested thousands of hours of work in this case”
Proceso Digital reported: “The environmental defender has been deprived of his freedom since December 2018 for demonstrating and protesting against the concession of mining in the Guapinol sector by the company Inversiones Pinares.”
That article adds: “Environmental defenders argue that the mining project pollutes several rivers that originate from Carlos Escaleras Park.”
And Criterion.hn reported: “Although, Martínez was acquitted of these two offences he will not be released because he has another pending process of an indictment by the mining company Los Pinares, where he has been given pre-trial detention.”
This article also notes: “The trial was carried out with the allegations of the private indictment and not with those provided by the Public Prosecutor’s Office, which almost always makes accusations against the defenders of the territories and the environment with the private accusations and not with evidence provided by the prosecutors, recounted [Kenya Oliva, of Martinez’s lawyers].”
Libertad para los defensores de Guapinol also tweeted: “The acquittal of Jeremias Martínez of the crime of usurpation is a popular achievement that ratifies the community’s right to protest in defense of natural resources and common goods in Honduras. Camps for life and water are necessary and legitimate!”
Seven other Guapinol water defenders remain in prison along with Martinez
This despite the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detentions earlier this month urging Honduras to “release the eight defenders immediately” and to grant them the effective right to compensation and reparation.
PBI-Honduras has been accompanying various processes in relation to the defenders of the Guapinol River for the past two years. On March 3, they observed the Guapinol Despierta media conference where the legal team and the Municipal Committee for the Defense of Common and Public Assets announced the finding by the UN Working Group.
PBI-Canada continues to follow this with great concern.